Health Department holding H1N1 vaccination clinics for at-risk groups

Alabama health officials will begin administering 55,000 injectable doses of H1N1 vaccination Oct. 28 to several at-risk groups throughout the state, Gov. Bob Riley said during an Oct. 27 webcast.

The state Department of Public Health will be distributing “limited amounts” of the vaccine during health clinics in every Alabama county, and will focus its efforts on children and senior citizens, Riley said.

The doses will be distributed to counties based on population.

“I want to encourage everyone to understand who needs to take this vaccine,” Riley said. “As most of you know, there is a shortage of the H1N1 vaccination in Alabama.

“The Health Department is trying to manage a very difficult situation,” Riley added. “It could be chaotic for a while, because there are people who need it more than others.”

Health Department officials will target pregnant women, children between 6 months and 4 years old, parents, caregivers and siblings of children less than 6 months old, children between 5 and 18 years old who have underlying medical conditions and health care workers.

As of Oct. 27, state health officials had reported 22 H1N1-related deaths, said State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson. However, Williamson also reported a decline of school absenteeism and influenza-related hospital admissions.

Hospitals across the state are reporting about 3 percent of their admissions are flu-related, and less than half of state schools are reporting more than 5 percent absenteeism, Williams said.

The figures were down from early October, when 18 percent of hospital admissions were flu-related, and more than half of schools were reporting more than 5 percent absenteeism.

“We are now in the stable portion of this outbreak,” Williams said. “Maybe, maybe we are on the downside. But we will see several more weeks of this widespread influenza outbreak.”

The Health Department earlier predicted it would have about 600,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine by the end of October. However, the state likely will only have about 300,000 on Oct. 31, Williamson said.

It will be the end of November or the first of December before we will be able to make up this shortage,” Williamson said.

The Shelby County vaccination clinic will be held for those in the high-risk groups at Sports Blast on U.S. 280 Oct. 28-29 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. both days.